More side dish and less main

Mexican Charred Corn Dog

Who invited that hot dog?!

Who invited that hot dog?!

This post is really just a recommendation to make the topping and skip the hot dog.  The topping is completely delicious.  I didn’t think that cooking corn (I used defrosted frozen stuff) in a dry skillet would actually make much of a difference for flavor.  I was so wrong.  The browning brings out the sugar in the corn, making it the perfect foil for all of the other sour ingredients.  I think I overcooked my corn a little, though.  The recipe says to roast the corn in a dry skillet until it is browned, then add oil and scallion greens, and cook until the scallions are soft.  Well, the corn doesn’t magically stop cooking once you add the oil and scallions, so I cut this whole process off before the scallions were cooked because the corn was edging from brown to black.  That having been said, it was delicious.  I think I would brown the corn by itself until it is very nearly fully browned, then add the oil and scallions to brown it the rest of the way while the onions cook.

I wound up absolutely loving the corn topping, dressing, everything.  So I was super excited to eat the hot dog.  Here’s roughly a transcript of what went on in my head with each bite: “whoo hoo!  Corn!  Lime mayo!  This is awesome! (chew, chew) Oh, yeah, hot dog.  Huh.  Bun.  Yeah…ok, I guess.”  Then I’d take another bite and repeat that.  The hot dog and bun really got in the way of the salad.  Unlike the banh mi dog where the hot dog added some salt and umami to the other flavors, here it just seemed like an afterthought.  So just serve the salad as a side with a hot dog that you dress as you please.  Curious how I prefer my hot dog?  I thought you’d never ask.  I like it with cheap yellow mustard, corn relish, and raw onions.  Actually, I once had that hot dog with homemade pickled watermelon rind added on and it was perfect.  That would be my ultimate dog…with this corn salad on the side.

On the other hand, you could just grill corn on the cob on the grill and dress it with the lime mayo, Cojita cheese, and chili powder.  That would probably be the best of the best.  That cheese, by the way, tastes almost exactly like feta.  I’ve also had corn dressed this way with freshly grated Parmesan.  That works too.

 

Baking Sunday morning before any coffee…Recipe for disaster??

Lemon-lime Tea Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 98

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The lemon-lime tea cakes was the last recipe on my list to bake for EF’s 69th issue.  I woke up bright and early (7 am) Sunday morning ready to bake! Got the coffee brewing and then started mixing the ingredients for the tea cakes.

Using my lovely Kitchen Aid, I combined all the ingredients, put the batter into 20 mini-muffin reservoirs, and popped them in the oven.  Poured myself a cup of coffee, took a sip, and started gathering my thoughts for the lemon syrup I was about to make.  Dang…I completely forgot to put the salt in the tea cakes.  I probably should have waited to start baking after I had some coffee, to let my brain wake up.  Oh well, the damage has already been done…Back to making the lemon syrup and finishing my cup of coffee.

The syrup took less than 15 minutes to make, so it was perfect timing.  I was able to pour the hot syrup over the hot tea cakes.  The smaller tea cakes soaked up the syrup better, because the syrup that didn’t soak into the toothpick holes, seeped between the cake and pan.

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P and I snacked on the lemon-lime tea cakes while watching ‘Meet the Press’ and drinking coffee.  The tea cakes were amazing!  They were like baby pound cakes with a nice burst of citrus flavor.  We didn’t miss the salt one bit!

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I would definitely make these again and would love to try orange peel and juice.  Although the lemon-lime tea cakes will be hard to beat!

Baking Sunday morning before drinking coffee was NOT a disaster!

flipped cookies and the bar to be savored

Cinnamon-sugar palmiers

coconut-lime bars

If you look very closely, you can tell what day it was

If you look very closely, you can tell what day it was

Folks, you need to make these palmiers.  I’ll wait.

Good, right?  Let me show you a couple things in case the recipe looks weird and intimidating.  First of all, I need to say that you barely need to roll the puff pastry out to get it to 9 by 11 inches.  It’s about 8 by 10 to begin with.  Second, try folding a piece of paper the way they tell you to fold the dough in order to practice and get the idea.  It’s simple, but it’s very hard to picture in your mind, and it’s not something you can see a picture of and instantly understand.  At least it wasn’t for me.  So I had to try it with paper a few times.  Here’s what it looks like all folded up:

not unlike churros...

not unlike churros…

You can cut the slices with a knife.  It’s not too terribly delicate. Be sure to space them those 2 inches apart.  These puff up quite a bit.  That’s a good thing.  Look at how ridiculous they look raw!

cue the sad trombone

cue the sad trombone

Ah, but here they are finished:

even the burned ones are good

even the burned ones are good

The really odd thing about this recipe is that you flip the cookies about halfway through.  I don’t mean rotate the sheet or swap the top rack for the bottom rack.  I mean you literally take the cookies out of the oven, flip each cookie upside down and cook the other side.  That was a new one for me.

What you wind up with is a light, airy, delicate, sweet, wonderful cookie.  Good luck not eating them by the handful.  You’ll note that we didn’t drizzle them with chocolate.  It didn’t seem necessary.  They were sweet enough already.

Now, the coconut lime bars.  They’re also delicious.  They are thick and dense.  We used salted macadamia nuts because we couldn’t find unsalted.  All we did was just omit salt otherwise.  Easy peasy.  They are a nice bar cookie to sit and savor.  There’s really no trick to them except that I think the pan size is more forgiving than the recipe seems to suggest.  I only have an 8 by 8 pan.  This calls for a 9 by 9.  First we tried to do some half-assed math with surface area and volume.  Ugh.  Then, we thought we’d just make the normal batter and throw some of it out.  A triumph of American public schooling right here.  Well, when we pushed the batter for the bottom crust down into the pan, we noticed that it wasn’t all that thick.  So we figured, let’s just bake it a little longer and see how it goes.  It goes well.  It goes very well.  I think you could use a 9 by 9 or an 8 by 8.  Just keep an eye on them.  And enjoy!

Yeah, the coconut toasted just like that.  It was amazing.

Yeah, the coconut toasted just like that. It was amazing.

Spaghetti squash in the microwave(!)

Skirt steak with pickled onion and spaghetti squash*

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

20 minute meal with a side of heartburn

This is a supposed one hour prep time recipe that can be made in about 20 minutes with the help of the microwave.  Yes, you can make spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I found some instructions online that had you cut the thing in half before you microwave it.  That seemed to defeat the purpose.  So this is what you do: Take the whole spaghetti squash and stab it with a big knife in many many places evenly spaced (you can’t play serial killer and really hack at it because it’ll roll…), place it in the microwave and heat for for 16 minutes (check it at 10, 12, and 14 minutes).  It will be done when you can stab it very easily with a paring knife.  Take it out of the microwave and cut it in half lengthwise.  You’ll need mitts.  The squash is so much easier to cut when it’s cooked than it is when it’s raw.  Scrape out the seeds and discard.  Do the spaghetti squash thing with a fork to get your strands.  My strands weren’t great, but I’m no good at that.  Done!  It’s not as tasty as roasted squash, but you can barely tell the difference.  This technique makes it so squash on a weekday is actually feasible.  Ok, it did explode a little even though I stabbed holes, but it wasn’t a very big mess.  I lost maybe an 1/8 of a cup of goo and seeds.  Combine the squash with 2 T olive oil, season with salt and pepper.

The skirt steak was tasty.  It’s not worth giving directions beyond cook steak in a skillet, tent it with foil.  I used montreal steak seasoning because Montreal steak seasoning>salt and pepper.  It was a little tough, but that’s a problem with most skirt steak.

The onions were delicious, but strong.  You take a red onion, slice it very thinly and marinate it with the juice and zest of 3 limes for at least 15 minutes.  This may actually be a job for that most dangerous utensil, the mandoline.  The onions kind of upset my stomach eating that many that raw.  The leftovers softened and mellowed quite a bit, luckily.  I ate them on a leftover turkey sandwich.

*all recipe information adapted from Everyday Food issue #47 November 2007 p. 136